The 2008 Henry R. and Gladys V. Irons Lecture
Professor Nima Arkani-Hamed
Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton
Fundamental Physics in 2010
Nima Arkani-Hamed was born in Iran, received his undegraduate degree from Toronto and his PhD from Berkeley. He is one of the most sought after popular lectures and has appeared on TV in programs like NOVA.
In 2006 he was chosen by Popular Science as one of the "BRILLIANT 10". The magazine's criterion: "We asked for the mavericks. The young guns. The individuals who are changing not just what we know but the limits of what we think it is possible to know".
He and a growing minority of scientists suspect that our universe is just one of untold billions of universes that exist side byside in a cosmic landscape, each with its own laws of physics and its own constants of nature.
With the anticipated turn-on of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) next summer, fundamental physics is on the verge of entering its most exciting era in a generation. The LHC is the biggest experiment in history, in all senses of the word. The machine is a circular ring with a 28 km circumference, in which two beams of protons are accelerated in opposite directions, to speeds approaching 0.99999999 times the speed of light. They are then made to collide with each other, allowing us to probe the laws of Nature down to distances of 10^(-17) cm, 1000 times smaller than the atomic nucleus, 10 times smaller the tiniest distances we have probed to date. There are strong arguments that dramatic new physical principles await us at these distances. The LHC could extend our usual notions of spacetime by detecting supersymmetry or extra dimensions of space, and could directly produce the particles that constitute the Dark Matter of the Universe. In this talk I will describe these ideas, and discuss the solid things we will have learned to by the early years of the next decade.